As one of the oldest construction trade associations in the state of Nevada, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Las Vegas was officially incorporated on July 26, 1961, under its original name, Associated Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors of Nevada.
However, further investigation reveals even deeper roots as the association houses meeting documents dating back to July 1, 1955. These documents confirm that the MCA’s founders banded together and operated informally under the name Master Plumbers Association of Clark County. The MPACC is the predecessor to today’s MCA of Las Vegas. Since the Local Union 525 was formed in 1938, it is presumed that the MPACC emerged to collectively bargain the Master Labor Agreement on behalf of the contractors.
The MCA’s birthright is owed to a baker’s dozen of mechanical contractors with a forte in trailblazing and problem-solving. These contractors collectively valued the betterment of industry as priority number one.
The association’s legacy is owed to the following individuals and their companies: Harmon DeLoy Abbott, Abbott’s Plumbing & Heating, Inc.; Robert J. Taylor, Ace Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc.; Thomas R. Barnett, Barnett Plumbing & Heating Co.; Lester E. Cannon, Cannon Plumbing & Heating; Eugene J. Gorlick, Foreman Plumbing of Nevada; Guy Foster, Hansen Plumbing & Heating of Nevada, Inc.; Daniel S. Larkin, Larkin Plumbing & Heating Co. (and Larkin Service, Inc.); Miles R. Nay, Miles R. Nay Contractors; William (Bob) G. Miller, Miller Plumbing, Inc.; Hyman (Hy) Yanke, Southern Nevada Plumbing & Heating Corp.; Joseph P. Davis, United Plumbing & Heating, Inc.; Frank Hazzard, Western Plumbing & Heating, Inc.; Frank E. Hess, E. Willardson, Inc.
In 1961, the association’s humble beginnings were led by executive manager William H. Nichols. The Journeyman MLA wage package that year was approximately $4.50 per hour and the population of Clark County was 132,970.
The association became an affiliated chapter to the National Association of Plumbing Contractors on November 1, 1961. The NAPC is today known as the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors – National Association (PHCC – National). PHCC – National was founded in 1883.
It was not until November 1962 that the association officially operated from a brick and mortar office located at 1521 Western Avenue. Prior to this, the founding members carried out association business from member companies’ offices or restaurants.
In 1971, the association made headlines, literally. The association owned sole bragging rights to the front cover of the 1971 Fall Issue of OFFICIAL, IAPMO’s national magazine, along with a hearty news article on page 8. The association is credited for its herculean effort in rallying the troops to codify the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) into Nevada Revised Statutes.
These efforts were spearheaded by association President Charles Englert of Universal Plumbing & Heating Company with Assembly Bill 385 as the vehicle. AB 385 was signed into law by then Nevada Governor Michael O’Callaghan on May 4, 1971.
Plumbing unions, plumbing contractors and plumbing officials cooperated completely in backing the measure. Even more unusual, the bill sailed through both houses of the legislature without a single dissenting vote.
Other key figures that played a key role in the UPC’s legacy included Las Vegas-based Assemblyman Keith Ashworth, Henderson-based Assemblyman Hal Smith and State Senator Jim Gibson. Last but not least, the association’s executive director I. Parke Syers played an integral part by keeping a steady grip on the steering wheel.
The Journeyman MLA wage package in 1971 was $11.26 and hour and the population of Clark County was 295,000.
The early 1980s proved a tumultuous time for labor and management. Strife came on the heels of a failed attempt to negotiate a separate residential agreement between the association and the local in 1979.
A strike broke the day after the contract expired on June 30, 1980 and lasted for nine months.
In February 1981 negotiations surrounding the expired contract came to a screeching halt. Not only was an impasse declared by the association, but the employer’s formal bargaining unit was officially dissolved. This announcement came in a February 5, 1981 letter penned by the association’s Executive Director Richard Vandenberg, Jr. to Business Manager Jack McGinty. Vandenberg noted that 20 employers had signed interim contracts while an estimated 20 employers within the multi-employer bargaining group were believed to be operating without a contract. This letter served to get the attention of the United Association(U.A.) and the local.
The U.A. stepped in and after several meetings with the employers and members of the local, the employers came to an agreement with the U.A. in a meeting on March 26, 1981 held in Washington D.C. The Local begrudgingly ratified the new contract on April 2, 1981, which included a significant cut to the wage package. Additionally, on March 1, 1983 the Local Union 604 was chartered by the U.A. and operated disharmoniously side-by-side the Local Union 525 until January 1, 1985. The association served as the multi-employer bargaining group with both locals during this period of time.
Despite the Master Labor Agreement’s (MLA) lower wage package, the inability to negotiate a separate residential agreement in 1979 resulted in a permanent forfeiture of the new construction residential market, never again to be considered covered work for the signatory employers and the union members.
Fourteen signatory contractors were lost forever during this time of discord, yet in an effort to avoid this degree of conflict in the future, a no strike clause was added to the MLA. Fortunately, the last 30 years have proved a more cooperative effort between management and labor.
In 1981, the Journeyman MLA wage package was $22.73 an hour and the population of Clark County was 482,883.
In 1993, under the leadership of Vandenberg the association changed its formal name from Associated Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors of Nevada to Mechanical Contractors Association, Inc.The Journeyman MLA wage package in 1993 was $29.57 an hour and the population of Clark County was 898,020.
At the end of the 1990s, a number of small, trade-specific subcontracting associations found it more and more difficult to reap legislative and regulatory satisfaction in a state experiencing growing pains directly correlated to a burgeoning population. A handful of associations, including the MCA, banded together informally to benefit the entire subcontracting industry as a whole. This group later became known as the Subcontractors’ Legislative Coalition (SLC).
The SLC was officially incorporated on February 28, 2008 and still serves as the government affairs arm of the MCA and four other construction-related associations and a handful of individual members. The SLC has been officially operating out of the MCA’s offices since its incorporation. There is strength in numbers and the unification of the SLC members prioritizing subcontractor issues has proven invaluable, benefitted the industry and accomplished feats that may have otherwise been impossible for any one SLC member standing alone.
Under the direction of Executive Director, Richard W. Lisle, the association on December 3, 2001 established the Holly and Ben Barton Memorial Endowment Fund at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The association has gifted more than $50,000 to the fund. The scholarship was a gesture for Jim Barton, the owner of Big Town Mechanical, and a tribute to the lives of his wife and son who were tragically lost in a car accident. The College of Fine Arts was the chosen recipient since Barton’s wife was a school teacher had a lifelong love affair for the fine arts. The Journeyman MLA wage package was $40.87 and the population of Clark County was 1,498,279.
In April 2004, the association purchased its first piece of real estate at 2640 S. Jones Boulevard, Suites 1 and 4. Due to a responsible eye on association finances, the new office was purchased outright, and so, gone were the days of paying rent. The Journeyman MLA wage package was $45.37 and the population of Clark County was 1,747,025.
On March 5, 2008 the association became an affiliate chapter to the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA). The MCAA was founded in 1889. The Journeyman MLA wage package in 2008 was $53.61 and the population of Clark County was 1,986,146.
And, in 2013, in an effort to better capitalize on a world-renowned brand, the association underwent another facelift and became the Mechanical Contractors Association of Las Vegas. A new name also ushered in a new logo. Following a flurry of ideas and discussion at the design table, the MCA settled on a logo that depicts the Las Vegas skyline, a skyline built by MCA contractors.
Moving forward, the new MCA logo instills pride and earmarks the passage of time. It symbolizes our contractors’ skill, ingenuity and contribution to Las Vegas, particularly to its crown jewel, the Las Vegas Strip. The font in the new MCA logo mirrors that of our national association partner, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.
The MCA’s history is rich and colorful. By Nevada standards, the association can easily be classified as one of the state’s treasured pioneers. Honor the past. Protect the present. Build the future. MCA.